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Category: Book

The Mayor of Casterbridge

‘Life is an oasis which is submerged in the swirling waves of sorrows and agonies’. Thomas Hardy’s novels of rural life in his fictional county of Wessex (standing in for Hardy’s own county of Dorset) are filled with dark moralising and pessimistic philosophy, epitomized by the author’s assertion in the final lines of The Mayor… Read More

Sumer is icumen in – finally.

 Sally Minogue reflects on evocations of Summer by some Wordsworth authors. ‘Sumer is icumen in –/ Lhude sing! cuccu.’ Not by one of Wordsworth’s authors, but by one of that large and motley crew, Anon., this early 13th century lyric is still widely recognized because it was set to music and is still sung today…. Read More

Elizabeth Gaskell and ‘Lois the Witch’

The name Elizabeth Gaskell probably conjures up associations with her more well known social realist novels such as Mary Barton (1848), North and South (1855) and Cranford (1853).  Yet, during much of her writing career she remained fascinated with the supernatural and produced numerous ghost stories.  In her biographical work The Life of Charlotte Brontë… Read More

Great Expectations: reduced imaginations

Sally Minogue and Stephen Carver give a final overview of the BBC One adaptation of Dickens’s novel. The first episode of Steven Knight’s adaptation of Great Expectations was a pleasant surprise to both Stephen Carver and me. Stephen will speak in the later part of this blog; but for both of us, I think, this… Read More

Desperate Remedies

 Desperate Remedies is the first published novel written by Thomas Hardy (1840 – 1928) and as such is a wonderful amalgam of gothic mystery and an exploration of the themes and ideas about life, fate and the way unpredictable circumstance can dictate the path one takes through life, which were expanded upon in his subsequent… Read More


The basic premise of the story of Faust is generally well known. It concerns a magician who  agrees to surrender his soul to Mephistopheles, an evil spirit, for a certain period of time in exchange for otherwise unattainable knowledge and magical powers giving him access to all the world’s pleasures. It is believed that the… Read More

Seven Pillars of Wisdom

‘It ranks with the greatest books ever written in the English language. As a narrative of war and adventure it is unsurpassable.’ Winston Churchill Thomas Edward Lawrence (1886 – 1935) was a British archaeologist, army officer, diplomat and author, best known for his legendary was activities in the Middle East in the First World War…. Read More

Great Expectations

Turning our eyes for the moment fully on the novel Great Expectations rather than its adaptation, Sally Minogue looks at the way Charles Dickens explores the power of expectation. What a brilliant title! In two words Charles Dickens both raises our expectations and undermines them. For if we have great expectations, you can be pretty… Read More

Great Expectations

‘Moments before the Great Corruption’ – Great Expectations Episode One Review After all the hype, the interviews, and the extended trailer, I must confess I was expecting more from last night’s pilot episode of Steven Knight’s new adaptation of Great Expectations. This is, after all, ‘The Dickens tale as you’ve never seen it before’ according… Read More